The best things to do with kids on the Sunshine Coast
On the Sunshine Coast, you will find the type of holiday that evokes childhood memories good enough to bottle up and keep forever.
1. Get Physical on the Kondalilla Falls Circuit Track
Kondalilla Falls is one of the most popular waterfall spots on the Sunshine Coast. There are several trails available, but the easy 1.7 km Picnic Creek Circuit is where it’s at for a family outing.
Rolling green hills (great for a picnic) lead down to where the trail begins and toilets are also located near the entrance. Be sure to bring everyone’s swimmers for a dip in the waterhole on a hot summer’s day.
2. Swim at the King Beach Ocean Pool
When my kids saw this pool, sparkling on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, they couldn’t believe their eyes – and they also couldn’t believe their luck when we told them it was free!
Located adjacent to Kings Beach in Caloundra, this pool is the perfect place for a quick dip sans the sands.
3. Relax for the day at Lake Currimundi
Lake Currimundi is like a natural water park. Hidden just behind the surf beach at Caloundra, the lake provides a cool, calm, freshwater respite from the hot salty beach on a summer’s day. Plenty of shady trees line the shore, so it’s easy to set up shop in one spot and camp out for the day.
Float in the crystal-clear waters or take a ride on the current that appears on the far side of the lake and washes you towards the surf. Older kids can do a bit of dune jumping, too.
4. Take in the Scenery at Mary Cairncross Reserve
This lush green 55-hectare pocket of rainforest has famous views of the Glass House Mountains, which is really enough of a reason to visit in itself. Add a great green lawn with a playground to keep the kids entertained while you picnic and an easy, level track through the serene reserve (perfect for pram access) and you have an epic day trip with only one necessary stop!
Keep the kids interested by trying to spot the quick and very small wallabies called paddymelons that live here.
5. Enjoy a day at Point Cartwright Beach
Sheltered on a corner of the Mooloola River, the water at Point Cartwright is calm, protected from the wind of the surf beach, which makes it a perfect spot to bring your little water babies. It’s also a great place to cast a line and has select off-leash areas for dogs so you can bring your fur babies too!
If there’s energy left after enjoying some water time, venture to the lighthouse at the headland or grab some fresh seafood from one of the vendors in the area.
6. Go BIG at The Big Pineapple
Ask any kid who grew up in the ’70s or ’80s and they’ll tell you how BIG the Big Pineapple looks when you’re five. While it may not look as big when you’re a bit older, it’s still a must see for your kids while you’re on the Sunshine Coast.
If you’re there on a Saturday you’ll find market stalls with local produce, potted plants and other odds and ends.
7. Fall in love with Gardners Falls
This is one waterhole that is super easy to get to, which is paramount when you’ve got the whole family and all your gear in tow. Located just off Highway 23 near Maleny, with ample signage – it doesn’t take much to spot the turn-off.
Parking can be dicey in the busy summer months, but after just a short walk you’ll find yourself surrounded by green and ready to jump into the cool, flowing freshwater alongside the kiddos. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day out of it!
8. Go koala spotting at Noosa National Park
One of the most famous places to see a cuddly koala in their own habitat is Noosa National Park. But that’s not all you’ll see here. Breathtaking coastal scenery, views across to the Cooloola Sands, lizards, birds and several types of plant life are all part of the experience.
Work up an appetite on one of the many trails throughout the park and either picnic at Main Beach or grab a bite on Hastings Street afterwards.
9. Explore the Rock Pools of Caloundra or Mooloolaba
These spots are an all-time family favourite for my tribe. You can often find my husband and me napping on a beach blanket while the kids explore the nooks and crannies of the rock pools hunting for crabs, fish, seashells and other treasures from the deep. The rock pools keep them busy in between surf swims.
It’s important to note that this area is not a guarded beach, so if you have tiny tots, you may want to stick to dry land and save swimming for another spot.
10. Stop and Smell the flowers at the Tin Can Bay Wildflower Walk
Who doesn’t love wildflowers? Little bursts of wild colour that volunteer to bloom right where their seeds land! Visit the Tin Can Bay Wildflower Walk to be surprised by a colourful palette of blooms.
The walk is at its best during the spring months when the fields come alive, but a variety of wildflowers can be seen year round. You might just need to brief the littlies to look with their eyes and not pick the flowers.
12. Say ‘crikey’ to the crocs (and all the cute animals) at Australia Zoo
You simply can’t holiday on the Sunshine Coast without spending a day at Australia Zoo. And if you think it can’t be done in a day, be sure to read this post, which will help you make the most of your time there.
Renowned for their history of conservation-focused messaging made famous by the late Steve Irwin, this is practically the capital of the Australian animal kingdom. With wombats, kangaroos, echidnas, dingoes and of course crocodiles, plus non-Australian animals like Asian elephants, giraffes, tigers and more, your day will be a roaring good time!
Tip: It’s okay to bring your own food and drink into the zoo, so if you’re feeling budget conscious, just grab a spot on the lawn for lunch instead of fighting the crowds at the food court.
13. Go Under the Sea at Sea Life Mooloolaba
If you had your fill of animals at Australia Zoo, your next stop should be Sea Life Mooloolaba where you’ll get up close to over 10,000 creatures, including Australia’s largest collection of jellyfish.
Wow the kids when you walk underwater in an 80-metre ocean tunnel that takes you on a journey along the ocean floor. If money’s no object, purchase a seal swim or seal encounter and your kids will look like a boss at their next show and tell.
14. Be Thrilled at Aussie World
This park is a fun day out for the big kids too! After you spin, float, bump and scream your way around Aussie World with the kids, finish the day with a stop at The Pub for a coldie and some food to fill everyone’s bellies.
15. The Ginger Factory
Don’t expect Disneyland here, but the quaint small-town feel of The Ginger Factory will definitely delight the kiddos for an afternoon.
Start out with the Overboard ride, which is reminiscent of ‘It’s a Small World’ with a gingerbread man twist, then hop aboard a historic cane train for a ride around the property. Explore the tropical gardens and grab an ice-cream or shop for souvenirs in Ginger Town.
16. Explore the Maleny Botanic Gardens
Take the family on an adventure through over 14 acres of manicured gardens punctuated by lakes and waterfalls and set amidst ancient rainforest with views of the Glass House Mountains.
Between spotting peacocks, ducks, hens and roosters and feeding ‘Snowy’ the resident mini goat, the kids might think they’ve found Never-Never Land, but when you realise you can bring the dog on the outing and stay for a picnic on the lawn, you’ll probably agree!
17. Show your kids where milk comes from
We are so far removed from our food sources these days that it’s nice to provide the kids with an up-close account of where our food comes from. Both Maleny Dairies and Maleny Cheese offer the chance to witness the process.
While Maleny Cheese is more of a watch-while-you-eat-in-the-café experience, Maleny Dairies offers tours that include time with their baby calves, which is sure to be a favourite.
18. Chomp some fish & chips on the beach
What better place to dive into a delicious batch of fish and chips than right on the coast? An affordable takeaway option for the whole family, plentiful options dot the esplanades up and down the coastline.
19. Pick Your Own Strawberries at a Strawberry farm
When the Beatles sang about “Strawberry Fields Forever”, they must have been thinking of the Sunshine Coast. Take your pick of the many pick-your-own options in the area such as Strawberry Fields.
You’ll leave with baskets full of ripe red strawberries, and maybe even a belly-full of strawberry ice-cream!
20. Take in the Eumundi Markets
Known as one of the largest artisan markets in Australia, The Original Eumundi Markets, on every Wednesday and Saturday, will keep the whole family entertained for the good part of a day. The kids will beg you to let them sample the huge variety of treats, and you might want to indulge too.
The toy stalls are sure to be a hit and after all that excitement, kick back and enjoy some of the live music. Don’t be surprised if you leave with some inspired local goods.
21. Stroll down main street, Montville
Spend a day in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland at Montville. Visit the candy shop that shows you how to make hard boiled candy or indulge in some fudge from the famous Fudgyboombah’s fudge shop.
The waterwheel will be popular with the little ones and if you’re hungry grab a bite at Poet’s Café with drop-dead-gorgeous views across the valley to the ocean. Other fun tips for spending time in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland can be found in this post.
22. 4×4 the beach at Cooloola, Great Sandy National Park
If you like a little adventure, head out for a day driving on the beach at Cooloola, Great Sandy National Park. Catch the ferry across the Noosa River and spend the day splashing in the surf, admiring the coloured sands and getting your feet dirty at Red Canyon (our favourite stop).
This one falls into the almost free category because you’ll need a beach driving permit before hitting the sand.